MSI Eclipse SLI Reviewccokeman -
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The bundle of accessories included with the Eclipse SLI from MSI is pretty substantial. It includes pretty much everything you need to get the Eclipse installed and running up to its maximum capabilities. From the M-Connectors to the SLI and CrossfireX bridge connectors to the drive cables, you get it all. The bundle is so substantial it takes two pictures to get it all in. The documentation is provided for all of the accessories so you have the information right at your finger tips. From a quick start guide to the DLED-2 functions to the X-Fi manual, it's all there.
The drive cabling provided will allow you to connect up to six SATA drives, two e-SATA drives and two IDE drives. There is a floppy drive connector but it is not used in this application. SATA power connections are provided for three drives in case your power supply is not so equipped. There is an expansion bracket that allows you to have two more USB 2.0 ports on the back side of your chassis if needed. Many newer cases will easily take up the other two USB ports via the front panel connections.
The I/O shield is just standard fare with nothing special to note. It is labeled to show what the connection points are. The bridge connections that are supplied will allow you to run multiple video cards in a multiple GPU configuration. Nvidia cards can run in Tri SLI mode with the ATI cards running in a CrossfireX configuration.
The diagnostic LED mounts to the Eclipse SLI right above the front panel connection points. This little tool can give you information on the error codes as well as system information including temperatures and voltages. The temperature information it displays is gathered by a thermister that is connected directly to the DLED-2. This you can put anywhere in your system that the thermister will reach. I used it to measure the temperature of the air coming out of my heatsink but you can fiind any number of uses.
The Green Power Genie module is mounted in line with the ATX 24-pin power connection from the power supply. It interfaces with the Eclipse SLI via a three wire connection to provide power consumption statistics to the Green Power Genie program. In a mid tower case this may provide some headache with a fully loaded case since it is right where the optical drives are located.
The M-Connectors are truly one of your best friends when it comes time to connect the front panel connections to the Eclipse. These allow you to make all of the small connections to a larger plug so that installation to the board is easy. If you have ever tried connecting a front panel USB connection with its nine single wires you will understand the ease with which it can be done now. You make your connections to the M-Connectors outside the chassis and then plug in one connection. Those with bigger hands will seriously appreciate this feature, I know I do.
Last, but not least, is the Creative X-Fi Extreme audio solution that is an MSI Exclusive. This is a design that uses the PCI-E x1 slot instead of the PCI slot. This card is capable of 7.1 surround sound and EAX 5.0. The inputs are color coded so you cannot make a mistake when connecting the speakers and microphone unless you really just aren't paying attention.
It's great to see the manufacturers send out this kind of all inclusive bundle. For the price of today's high end motherboards that is the expectation when paying a premium price for this kind of product. MSI has done well on this account.